Scarring is the process by which wounds are repaired. Damage to the deeper layer of the skin, the dermis, is required to produce a scar. Damage to only the epidermis, the most superficial layer of skin, will not always produce a scar. Scars produce a structural change in the deeper layers of the skin which is perceived as an alteration in the architecture of the normal surface features. It is not just a change in skin color.
What are the different types of scars?
Keloid scars: These scars are the result of an overly aggressive healing process. They extend beyond the original injury. Over time, a keloid scar may hamper movement. Treatments include surgery to remove the scar, steroid injections, or silicone sheets to flatten the scar. Smaller keloids can be treated using cryotherapy (freezing therapy using liquid nitrogen). You can also prevent keloid formation by using pressure treatment or gel pads with silicone when you are injured. Keloid scars are most common among people with dark skin.
Contracture scars: If your skin has been burned, you may have a contracture scar. These scars tighten skin, which can impair your ability to move. Contracture scars may also go deeper, affecting muscles and nerves.
Hypertrophic scars: These are raised, red scars that are similar to keloids but do not go beyond the boundary of the injury. Treatments include injections of steroids to reduce inflammation or silicone sheets, which flatten the scar.
Acne scars: If you’ve had severe acne, you probably have the scars to prove it. There are many types of acne scars, ranging from deep pits to scars that are angular or wavelike in appearance. Treatment options depend on the types of acne scars you have.
frequently asked questions
What causes a scar?
The normal healing process in human tissue results in a scar.
What are symptoms and signs of a scar?
Scars occur at the site of tissue damage and appear as firm red to purple fibrous tissue that over time usually becomes flatter and lighter in color.
How are scars diagnosed?
Scars are almost always diagnosed by visual inspection. There are a number of rare situations when it may be necessary to examine scar tissue under the microscope to confirm its true identity. This would require a biopsy of the skin and may require the injection of a local anesthetic. Sometimes other skin conditions can form in a scar and require a biopsy in order to be diagnosed.
Does insurance coverage apply to scar treatments?
Most medical insurance does not cover cosmetic procedures. If scarring has produced a change that is deemed other than cosmetic, it is reasonable to expect coverage, for example, when scarring is the result of trauma. Occasionally, this question may be open to dispute so it can be helpful to have a physician’s office intercede with the carrier prior to performing the procedure.